Taking God on Family Trips

Taking God on Family Trips - Parenting Like Hannah
From our mission trip last December

The holidays bring about the best of times and the worst of times (sorry Mr. Dickens). Often the joy of vacations is undone with the hassles of piling everyone and everything into a car or airplane and traveling hundreds of miles to visit family.

Between choruses of “I’m hungry”, “She’s touching me” and “Are we there yet”, it’s easy to forget about God. The idea of using the time to teach your children about godly principles seems insane. Yet, God told the Israelites to teach their children about God as they walked along the road. (Can you imagine that whining?!)

The good news is, you can use travel time constructively and have fun at the same time. Here are some great ways to re-inforce godly principles as you travel with your children:

  • Play Bible trivia. Your children can review and learn the people, places and events of the Bible or put them in chronological order. Older kids can say scriptures and see if the adults can tell who said them or where they are found. Many Christian bookstores have inexpensive question books or make up your own. Keep score and the winner gets to pick the restaurant for the next meal (within reason!).
  • Play “I Spy” with a twist. The person who is “It” finds an object he sees that reminds him of a Bible story or person. For example, if you are passing fields of sheep, she might think of David. Those guessing not only have to figure out the object being described, but which Bible story or person was connected to it.
  • Many children enjoy listening to stories on tape while in the car (especially if they are auditory learners). There are tapes available with actors portraying the Bible for children, or our daughter loved the Adventures in Odyssey tapes. The adventures were interesting and every story taught a godly principle. After each tape, talk about the story. What did they learn? Did they agree with what the people did or didn’t do? Why or why not?
  • Create a family praise song mash-up. Which of your family’s favorite praise songs would blend together well? What order should they go in when you sing them? Can you get them to tell a story by the way you order them and what lines you use? Practice singing your mash-up together. You may not be the next Von Trapp family, but your children will have great memories of singing praises to God on family road trips.
  • We have never had a car with a dvd player in it, but a lot of families do. Instead of the normal fair, pop in some Veggie Tales or other Christian videos for children.
  • Share family faith stories about the people you are going to visit. If your family lives far away, chances are your child barely knows the people they are visiting. They have probably never heard the story of how Grandma was converted or how Great-Great Grandpa was baptized in the river. If members of your family are not Christians, you may want to talk with your older children about what you have done in the past to “plant seeds” for God with these relatives. Perhaps your older children and teens can think of new ways to approach these family members with the idea of God’s love and grace.
  • Driving by some of God’s beauty? Sometimes it is easy to rush by in the hurry to reach your destination. We must have driven by the “Lost Sea” in TN dozens of times before we actually decided to stop and explore. Take a few minutes and explore God’s wonders. Praise Him out loud for his blessings and the beauty of His creation. Your family will be more refreshed for the rest of their journey than after a typical rest stop “excursion”.
  • Flying? One of the blessings in flying is that (to me) God’s wonders do not pale from the distance. Cars may disappear and buildings become mere specks, but the Grand Canyon is still amazing. The mountains are still majestic. The oceans are still mighty. Discuss this with your children. How can they see God’s glory out of the window of the airplane? (Turbulence and/or children who don’t like take-offs and landings provide great lessons in prayer and trust.)

What else have you done on family trips to teach your children about God as you “walk along the way” (or drive or fly)? I would love for you to share your experiences with other families in a comment below. While you are in town, don’t forget to attend the local congregation. Sometimes, it can be a little awkward for children to visit a new church. If you grew up going to church there, take your child to see your favorite Sunday School room or introduce them to one of elders. If it is a new church to you too, encourage your children to find things this church does, your congregation may want to try. What was it like to be a visitor? Were people friendly? How will your children treat visitors at home based on what happened to them as a visitor?

Have a great time this holiday season!

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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